Fishing deal welcomed
A Kirkcudbright scallop boat skipper has welcomed a deal designed to maintain harmony at sea.
And Stephen Girgan said the Solway Code of Conduct is an example the rest of Scotland should follow.
The innovative scheme is designed to avoid conflict between static and mobile gear fishermen.
It aims to ensure lobster and crab creels do not get snagged by scallop dredgers.
Local industry representatives recently agreed to update and extend the scheme for another year.
It will come into force from November 1 when the 2018– 19 scallop season opens.
Mr Girgan said: “This region should be very proud.
“Marine Scotland has held us up as the gold standard because of the way the code operates here.
“It’s a shame the rest of the country can’t be so proactive.”
The Solway Code – titled ‘Phone First’ – sees commercial in shore fishermen from different sectors contact one another in advance of operating in shared waters.
Keeping lines of communication open means static creels can be lifted before other fishing vessels arrive.
West Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group chair Alastair McNeill, from Dumfries, helped broker the protocol.
He said: “The code is in its eleventh year and over this period has largely prevented incidents of gear conflict from taking place in Wigtown Bay and Luce Bay.
“Last year no events of gear conflict in these waters were reported, mainly due to the presence of the code.
“The different commercial fishing sectors in the Solway work in partnership.
“This ensures that mutual respect is shown and incidents such as gear conflict are minimised.”
Luce Bay is a protected area where dredging for scallops and trawling is mostly banned.
Dredging in three small sectors of the bay is permitted for four months from November 1.
Detailed co– ordinates and maps are provided by the code.
Mr Girgan said: “Luce Bay is the only bit between the English Channel and the Isle of Jura that provides shelter from south–westerly gales in winter.
“It’s a great bolt–hole and there’s many a Christmas we would have had a pretty lean time without Luce Bay.”
The code also recommends scallopers give prior notice of working locations to creelmen and no dredging in a new area before 8am.